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Progressive electronic music

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Progressive electronic music

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Progressive electronic music (occasionally progressive electronic dance music or prog) is a collection of electronic music genres which draw upon the concepts of progressive music and includes the subgenres of progressive trance, progressive house, progressive techno and progressive breaks.

Contents

Overview

Most electronic dance music tracks released are produced with certain features that are favourable for DJs to beatmatch records together with an almost seamless sound to it. Unlike the obvious song structures of genres like hard house or Hi-NRG, the peaks and troughs in a progressive dance track tend to be less obvious. Layering different sounds on top of each other and slowly bringing them in and out of the mix is a key idea behind the progressive movement.

When discussing progressive electronic styles, the term "progressive" typically refers to the progressive structure (that changes occur incrementally, as in the case of progressive house). The exception is progressive trance, since trance is typically progressive in structure already. Progressive trance usually refers to a type of trance music that's minimalistic and more beat and percussion centric.

In the case of progressive house, the term 'progressive' can also refer to the style's open mindedness to bring in new features to prog-house tracks. Such elements can be almost anything, like a guitar loop, computer generated noises, typical elements of other music genres etc. Please consider that this feature makes the genre change all the time, apparently faster than the other electronic genres (such as trance and techno).

Progressive house

Progressive house has its origins in Britain in the early 1990s, with the output of the Guerrilla record label and Leftfield's first singles (particularly "Song of Life") inspiring, according to various accounts, either Genesis P-Orridge of Throbbing Gristle fame or then Mixmag editor Dom Phillips to coin the term. In 1992, what was to be the first superclub, Renaissance threw open its doors in the small mining town of Mansfield, and its DJs - particularly Sasha and the then-unknown John Digweed - were instrumental in pushing the sound in its early days. The music itself consisted of the 4-to-floor beat of house music allied to deeper, dub-influenced basslines and a more melancholic, emotional edge. Often, the ethereal "swirly" textures of early trance could be heard in the mix, and various other elements from across the electronic spectrum. "Song of Life", for instance, has a trip-hop like down-pitched breakbeat and a high-energy Roland TB-303 riff at various stages.

The centre-of-gravity of the sound, so to speak, has shifted over the years. After the release of Brian Transeau's (aka BT) debut album "Ima", for instance, the bulk of the style's records were in a more ethereal, melodic style. (That record was also an enormous influence on the nascent progressive trance sound.) Then, as trance became more and more popular and melodic, prog darkened and acted as a deliberately underground counterpoint, merging with tribal house to produce many very minimal percussive tracks as this decade kicked off, becoming a new sub-genre, 'Dark House' (this also marked the return to the sound of Sasha and Digweed, who had picked up and popularised the progressive trance sound in the interim).

Meanwhile, the Melbourne-centred Australian progressive scene, whose luminaries include Phil K and Luke Chable pioneered a distinctive sound of their own - marked by trancy pads, high-pitched twinkly lead lines and more frequent use of vocals, this style was pushed heavily in Britain and elsewhere by lapsed trance DJ Dave Seaman and expat Australian Anthony Pappa and was by 2003 the main style of progressive dance. Its influence even fed back into trance, with many sub-genre trademarks finding their way into the so called "Anjuna sound" centred on Above & Beyond's record label Anjunabeats.

Since 2005, progressive house has largely taken a back-seat in the dance music world, with most of the scene's major DJs playing electro- and tech-house and minimal instead.

Progressive trance

Progressive trance is a popular sub-genre in trance music and contains elements of house, techno and ambient music. The basic formula of trance became even more focused on the anthemic qualities and melodies, moving away from predictable arpeggiated analog synth patterns (aka acid synth lines). Acoustic elements and spacey pads became popular, compositions leaned towards incremental changes (aka progressive structures), sometimes composed in thirds (like Brian Transeau frequently does). The sound became more and more ethereal and heavenly. Progressive trance contains very intuitive elements, such as unusual basslines or original synths, which generally make it more "catchy".

The structure of progressive trance is different from a typical techno track. The introduction generally starts with slower ambient beats. Following this section is a "breakdown" and then the main melody. Electronic effects and vocals are usually in both the intro and the coda.

Phrases can be any multiple of 4 bars (4-8-12-16 etc.) in most typical progressive trance tracks. Phrases usually begin with the introduction of a new or different melody, or the introduction of hi-hats to the track. In progressive trance there may be four more simultaneous layers.

Known artists in this electronic music genre include Paul Van Dyk, Brian Transeau, James Holden, Josh Gabriel & Dave Dresden, Luke Chable, Deepsky, Sasha, Hernan Cattaneo and John Digweed. Newer artists include Terje Bakke, The Last Atlant, Hydroid, Gerry Cueto, Markus Schulz.

Progressive psytrance

Progressive psytrance is the progressive form of psychedelic trance. Some see it as the evolution of minimalist trance. Important artists in the genre include Atmos, Son Kite, Beat Bizarre, Krueger & Coyle , Vibrasphere, Sensient, Phacelift, Krumelur, Phony Orphants, Ticon and Igneous Sauria. Contrary to mainstream progressive trance, psy-progressive is usually not as uplifting as it puts more focus on sound production rather than melody. The structure is not well-defined as in most other styles of progressive trance.

Progressive breaks

Progressive breaks is a relatively recent phenomenon, essentially growing out of nu skool breaks and progressive house. (However, Way Out West was fusing progressive house, trance and breaks in a successful commercial fashion with "The Gift" and "Domination" in 1996 with Hybrid introducing "Symphony" the same year.) As a popular style in its own right, its roots lie in Australia - the Antipodean nation has fertile breaks and progressive scenes and so a cross-pollination between the two was always likely. Due to its roots in those scenes, progressive breakbeat is mostly of a trancier feel, with plenty of atmospheric pads and melodies. Most artists working in the genre also work in its immediate relatives too (a common feature of the Aussie scene is a collaboration between two prominent production teams, one turning in a house mix and the other a breaks rub), with only the likes of Hybrid really sticking to it consistently. That said, it is one of the more exciting developments on the progressive scene.

Progressive breaks artists include Digital Witchcraft, Momu, Hybrid and progressive house artists include Leftfield, BT, Steve Porter; however, the lines between these progressive styles and progressive trance, as groups such as Way Out West and Fluke have shown with their works, are less pronounced now than they were originally.

Progressive drum & bass

There are a few forms of Drum & Bass which are considered progressive. Neurofunk, a progression of the Techstep subgenre incorporates elements of Jazz and Funk along with multiple electronic influences including Techno and Trance. The style also follows traditional progressive form, building up to a peak of intensity. Drumfunk, a relatively new subgenre, is also considered progressive by many, along with Techstep itself.

Similarities in progressive genres

Since about 2000, progressive house and progressive trance have mostly converged, it's very difficult to differentiate one from another. While the faster (130-140bpm), more energetic records can continue to be classified as progressive trance, most producers from both styles have moved towards a softer, slower (110-130bpm) sound, and prefer to be classified as progressive house. In addition since 2000 many psychedelic trance artists also moved to a slower (125-138bpm) range branding their style as progressive trance or progressive psytrance.

Artists and labels

DJs who play progressive sounds include:

John Digweed
Sasha
Brian Transeau
James Holden
Nick Warren
James Zabiela
Sander Kleinenberg
Deep Dish
Hernan Cattaneo
Jimmy Van M
Steve Porter
Danny Tenaglia
Luke Chable
Sector7seven
Moshic
Andrew Casric

Progressive music artists and producers:

Atmos
Cosmic Gate
Binary Finary
Timo Maas
Hybrid (band)
Way Out West
Suspender
Infusion
Deepsky
Shiloh
Opencloud
Tilt (producers)
Trafik
Source of Gravity
Petter
POB
Humate
Jondi & Spesh
Luke Chable
Andy Page
Andrew Kelly
Phacelift
JT Castillo
Tom Sawyer (DJ/Producer)
16 Bit Lolitas
Bedrock (producers)
Breeder (producers)
John Graham (producer) (a.k.a. Quivver)
Peter Gun

Progressive record labels include:

Anjunadeep
Audio Therapy
Bedrock Records
Border Community
Brainiak Records
Blue Plasma Recordings
Cyber Recordings
Deep Records
Distinct'ive Records
Dorigen
Fire Recordings
Little Mountain Recordings
Pacific Front Recordings
Proton Music
Redrush Records
South Records
Toes in the Sand Recordings
Vandit Records
Warp Records
Yoshitoshi Records

See also

External links


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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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